By Charnita Mack
This year, the groundhog didn’t’ see his shadow on Groundhog Day, and to the people in Punxsutawney, Pa., that means spring will be making an early appearance. But does the woodchuck really have any clout to make such a scientific inference?
USC Naturalist in Residence Rudy Mancke says not so much.
“It’s a fun experience, it’s gives people the chance to come together and have a good time,” Mancke said.
Phil may continue to be the only animal that people will allow to predict spring’s arrival.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever connected it with any other animal,” Mancke said.
Mancke said his grandmother used to look at the abundance of the fruit on hickory trees for her predictions, and he even kept track of it for a while himself. It hasn’t checked out either, though.
Whether or not people believe the old myth of the groundhog’s shadow, it is a tradition that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
“It’ll go on for a long, long time because it’s fun,” Mancke said.
The Pennsylvania town had scheduled various events from Saturday, Jan. 30 up until Groundhog Day to celebrate the widely recognized day.
Even though the tradition of looking for the groundhog’s shadow dates back to 1887, according to the Groundhog Club website, the day really became popular after the release of the 1993 movie staring Bill Murray, “Groundhog Day.” The movie brought record numbers of people to the annual events in the years that followed.
For more information about Groundhog Day, its history and even teacher lesson plans, visit The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club website.
Mancke is known for his time at South Carolina’s ETV. He is the current host of “NatureNotes” on South Carolina’s ETV and Public Radio. Learn or hear more from Mancke here.